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Commemorating the 76th Anniversary of
The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Los Angeles, August 03, 2021 Kapoor/Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

“On a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself."

President Barack Obama delivered those powerful words during his visit to Peace Memorial in Hiroshima on May 27, 2016. President Obama was the first U.S. President to visit the Memorial in Hiroshima, Japan to pay tribute to those who died as a result of the atom bomb named 'Little Boy' that was dropped by American bomber Enola Gay on Hiroshima. It was the first time in human history that a catastrophic nuclear bomb was used as a weapon of warfare. This horrible tragedy took place 76 years ago on Aug. 6, 1945. It was a tragedy that took the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people who perished instantly. It is conservatively estimated that 150,000 people died or were missing. The same tragedy occurred on Aug. 9 when another atom bomb named Fat Man was dropped by the U.S. military on Nagasaki, destroying the city. Another 75,000 people died or were missing as a result of the bomb and the after-effects of radiation.
Pope Francis after visiting and  praying at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial on Nov. 24,2019 gave a powerful message to humanity and said, " Not only the use of atomic weapons but their mere possession is immoral."

Einstein and Gandhi, the two great pacifists, were very much troubled by the use of the atom bomb. Einstein deplored it and felt the atomic bombing of Japan was unnecessary. Gandhi condemned the bombing altogether, saying “I regard the employment of the atom bomb for the wholesale destruction of men, women and children as the most diabolical use of science.”

Do we have a lesson to learn today for present and future generations with respect to the acquisition and possession of nuclear weapons which are not only cost prohibitive but are a great threat to the human race and civilization? A few of those deadly weapons could wipe out the human race from this planet.

The resources that are used in the name of defense and deterrence ,the production, maintenance and refurbishing of nuclear weapons costs are astronomically high and mind-boggling. For the U.S. alone, the tab runs into the trillions of dollars since the inception of the nuclear era. According to Congressional Budget, US plans to spend 494Billion on nuclear force during the next decade, about 50 billion per year.   To our dismay, the U.S. has about 6,185 nuclear weapons in its possession. Russia has about 6,850. Altogether, there are more than 14,000 nuclear bombs possessed by nuclear nations.

The cost of production for one U.S. B 61 Bomb is about $28 million. The maintenance in itself is another story.The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons(ICAN) notes that  US spent about $35.4billion  just to maintain and operate the nuclear arsenal during 2019 which is half of $72.9 billion spent by world's nuclear powers during the same period. As per information from the BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS, US is building a new weapon of mass destruction at the cost of $100 per device. Air Force plans to order 600 of them. This is going to be a nuclear missile the length of bowling lane, will be able to travel 6000 miles carrying a warhead more than 20 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This could kill millions in one single shot.     According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the production and testing of nuclear weapons in the U.S. and internationally continues to harm the health, environment and culture of communities around the world. What's more, the weapons do not make us safer. Our government is breaking treaties and now wants to expand production and resume the testing after a long halt.

These are not the steps toward a peaceful and nuclear-free world. It is insane to spend that kind of money on these weapons of mass destruction.  We need to divert our precious limited resources to combat hunger, poverty and illness. We need resources to address the pandemic - not for another bomb or a bomber. According to World Beyond War, just 3% of the U.S. Defense budget or 1.5% of the world’s defense budget will go a long way to wipe out hunger and poverty. Doing so will contribute significantly to the achievement of sustainable global goals as developed by the United Nations.

To create awareness about building a peaceful and just world community, addressing threats of nuclear weapons and, eventually, their elimination and paying our tribute to the victims of nuclear holocaust and the survivors (also known as Hibakusha), Fresno State community commemorated the 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing in the Peace Garden last year on Aug. 6, 2020, in collaboration with Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) and Human Rights Collation of the Central Valley.

The commemoration  included a Peace Tree Planting Ceremony. Three peace trees that were grown from the seedlings of a camphor tree that survived the atom bomb in Hiroshima were donated by the Japanese American Community of Fresno were planted in the Peace Garden. The Honorable Toru Maeda, Consul General of Japan was the guest speaker in addition to dignitaries from Fresno State and the local Japanese American Community. Judge Dale Ikeda, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Fresno played a major role in securing  the Peace Trees. The Hiroshima- Nagasaki Commemoration will be observed again on Aug. 6 thru Aug. 9 in the PEACE GARDEN and SHINZEN FRIENDSHIP GARDEN, Woodward Park. The event at Fresno State starts at 8 am on Aug. 6 in the PEACE GARDEN and at 10:30am on Aug. 9 in SHINZEN FRIENDSHIP GARDEN, Wood ward Park.

The commemoration also includes a three day “FAST FOR PEACE” which also starts at 8 a.m. on Aug. 6 (the day when the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima) and continues until 11 a.m. on Aug. 9 (the day the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki). Fasting is the abstinence of food for a certain amount of time. It is a purposeful act of liberation through discipline and inspiration toward centeredness and inner peace. . The fast is an affirmation of our commitment to nonviolence, peace, justice, and our resolve to eliminate nuclear weapons and war as a tool of foreign policy. All are invited to join the fast.
A film ' HIBAKUSHA' will be shown at the Big Red Church on Van Ness  at 7 pm on Aug. 7. Public is invited.

Submitted by Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, Professor Emeritus
CO-Chair and Founder of Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley